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Court quashes detention order of ex-Skye Bank chairman, Ayeni


The detention ordered issued against former chairman of the defunct Skye Bank, Tunde Ayeni, has been set aside by an Abuja High Court sitting in Maitama, Tuesday.

The court had granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), request to detain Ayeni for 14 days.

But in a ruling yesterday, the court held that the commission had surpressed facts which misled the court into earlier granting the application.

The court thus declared the detention illegal.

The trial judge, Justice Yusuf Halilu, consequently ordered his immediate release from the custody of the anti-graft agency.

The decision of the court was sequel to an enforcement of fundamental rights suit filed by Ayeni, through his counsel, Ahmed Raji (SAN), seeking his release from the EFCC custody.
The anti-graft agency had last week approached the court through an ex-parte application, seeking a 14 day remand order of Ayeni.

The commission had premised the request for a remand on a need to investigate a petition submitted by the Office of the Vice President in respect of his alleged roles as the Chairman of the defunct Skye Bank.

The court then granted the said ex-parte application.

Ayeni had however approached the Court to challenge the order and prayed that same be set aside.

In his argument , Raji submitted that the application is challenging the jurisdiction of the court and the action of the Commission.

He informed the court , that there is a pending suit before the Federal High Court against the applicant on the same subject matter and that the trial judge at the Federal High Court, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba had in the particular case admitted him to bail.

He added that the bail condition had since been perfected

Raji added that the detention of the applicant was a breach of his fundamental human right as he went to the Commission by himself on invitation.

He further submitted that anti-graft agency purpotedly admitted the applicant to administration bail on a non -realizable terms, which amounts to “giving bail with one hand ,and collecting it back with the other hand”.

Raji argued that the subject matter in which the applicant was detained premised on Skye bank issue which is already before the Federal High Court.

He however prayed the court to set aside the remand order and release the applicant.
In his response, respondent counsel, A.I Audu opposed to the application on grounds that the subject matter of which the applicant is being detained was fresh quite different from the that of the matter before the Federal High Court.

He added that asides the petition submitted by the Office of the Vice President, the acting Chairman of the Commission also received a petition against the applicant from a Non Governmental Organization .

He however added that the applicant was invited based on the petition that he recieved about N8 billion from CBN to buy over Union Homes.

Audu further submitted that the applicant has been giving useful information to the Commission but fell ill along the way and he was consequently taken to the hospital.
He added, it is the illness of the applicant that prompted the Commission to seek for an order to further remand him to complete the investigation.

Justice Halilu held that with the submissions of both counsel, it was clear that the respondent surpressed fact when it came to ask for a remand order.

“Having considered all the facts before the court , it is clear that the respondent surpressed facts to mislead the court. If indeed there is a fresh petition against the applicant, and a pending matter is before the Federal High Court, the respondent need not a remand order, but to apply to amend the charge in which it is prosecuting the applicant.

“By coming for a remand order , the respondent had come to tamper with the sacred right of the applicant, which he enjoys. I wonder why the respondent do not attach the fresh petition it claimed it recieved. What I have before me is a petition written by the Office of the Vice President.

“On this note, I hereby set aside the earlier remand order and order the immediate release of the applicant”.


Felix Omohomhion, Abuja

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